Chronic Gum Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease

Dental health professionals have long understood the key role that inflammation plays in periodontal health. They recognize similarities between the inflammatory process in periodontal disease and that of other chronic inflammatory diseases. Chronic periodontitis, a leading cause of tooth loss, is also associated with increases in markers of systemic inflammation throughout the body.

But new research now shows that chronic gum inflammation might be directly associated with Alzheimer’s Disease. Researchers in Taiwan conducted a retrospective study using their National Health Insurance Research Database to determine whether patients with chronic periodontitis are at increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease, the results of which were published in August of this year.

Although they found no overall link between periodontitis and Alzheimer’s, the study found that patients age 50 or older, with 10 years or more of chronic periodontitis inflammation, were approximately 70% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those without chronic periodontitis. This risk was present even after researchers adjusted for other factors that might influence the development of Alzheimer’s, such as stroke, heart disease, and diabetes.

The research findings support the notion that diseases associated with low-grade inflammation, such as chronic periodontitis, may play a substantial role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. They highlight the need to prevent the progression of inflammatory diseases such as periodontitis, and to promote healthcare systems to better address these risks.

Since periodontitis is a preventable and treatable disease, periodontal patients should be aware of the potential risks of gum infection and the systemic impact that the associated inflammation could have on cognitive health, as well as other health issues. If you are concerned with the impact that gum inflammation could have on your overall health, call us to schedule a visit at 479-631-6074, or contact us by completing our contact form HERE.